PROVO, Utah — Freshman Chase Garbers threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 45 yards rushing, to lead California to a 21-18 win over BYU on Saturday night.
Sophomore quarterback Brandon McIlwain ran for 74 yards and a touchdown while also throwing for 38 yards on 5-of-7 passing for the Bears. Kanawai Noa eclipsed 1,000 career receiving yards after tallying 93 yards and a TD on seven catches.
California (2-0) beat the Cougars in the regular season for the first time in five meetings between the teams.
Tanner Mangum threw for 196 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions for BYU. The Cougars (1-1) lost their home opener for the second time in three seasons — both times to a Pac-12 team.
California went up 7-0 near the end of the first quarter thanks to a pair of big plays. Vic Wharton hauled in a 12-yard pass to convert a fourth down and Patrick Laird followed with a 25-yard touchdown catch on the next play.
BYU got on the board with a 36-yard field goal from Skyler Southam in the second quarter.
The Cougars had 193 total yards and 13 first downs in the first half while holding California to 124 yards and seven first downs. Still, BYU struggled to finish drives, converting just 4-of-10 third downs and 0 for 2 on fourth down.
California extended its lead to 14-3 early in the third quarter when Kanawai Noa scored on a 52-yard catch. Noa got behind a defender along the sideline, hauled in the pass and streaked untouched into the end zone.
The Cougars got a temporary spark via their defense. Dayan Ghanwoloku scooped up a fumble by Derrick Clark and raced 36 yards untouched for BYU’s first touchdown, cutting California’s lead to 14-10.
McIlwain ran for a 2-yard score to give the Bears an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter. BYU had a chance to cut into the lead after Ghanwoloku recovered his second fumble at the California 16, but Mangum threw a third-down interception.
BYU finally scored an offensive TD with 51 seconds left on a 1-yard strike from Mangum to Brayden El-Bakri. Cal’s Jaylin Hawkins recovered the ensuing onside kick to prevent the Cougars from having a shot at a go-ahead score.
California’s defense shut down an opponent when it mattered once again. The Bears did not allow a first-half touchdown for the second consecutive game. They held BYU to just 11 total yards on six plays in the third quarter.
BYU came through with some big plays on defense and special teams. It could not offset a mediocre offensive performance. The Cougars were stuck in neutral on most drives, much like a year ago, and struggled to keep their defense off the field.
California hosts Idaho State, a FCS opponent, on Saturday.
BYU travels to No. 5 Wisconsin on Saturday.
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